NEW YORK, March 4 Three forward-looking surveys
of U.S. hiring intentions point to a tentative jobs recovery in
The surveys by U.S. staffing and payroll companies suggest
businesses are cautiously rebuilding staff, especially in
professional areas such as finance and accounting, information
technology, and legal. Another poll finds increased optimism
about small-business employers.
A survey by Robert Half International Inc (RHI.N) of 4,000
executives found 10 percent expect to increase hiring in the
second quarter, compared with 6 percent who anticipate cutting
jobs. However, the vast majority -- 82 percent -- plan no
change in hiring.
"Many firms, especially those that found they cut staff too
aggressively during the worst of the recession, may need to add
personnel at the first sign of a pickup in business," Max
Messmer, chief executive of Robert Half, said in a statement.
A net 9 percent of executives in the finance, insurance and
real estate sector plan to add professional-level staff, while
a net 26 percent will add in the legal field, according to
Robert Half. More than one third of executives said they were
having trouble finding skilled professionals.
Meanwhile, the number of positions posted on the U.S.
edition of eFinancialCareers is up 15 percent from the same
time a year ago. The unit of Dice Holdings Inc (DHX.N) said on
Thursday the number of accounting jobs posted is up by half
from a year ago, while compliance and legal job postings are up
"We've heard isolated reports of firms losing out on their
top choices, because financial professionals are being courted
by more than one prospective employer," said Constance Melrose,
managing director of eFinancialCareers North America.
To be sure, improving sentiment may not immediately
translate into concrete job gains on a national scale. And
while job prospects have improved in some areas, they are worse
in others. For example, job postings in hedge funds, private
banking and commodities are lower, eFinancialCareers said.
Friday's February jobs report is expected to show a decline
of 50,000 nonfarm payrolls, possibly reflecting heavy snowfall
in the U.S. Northeast. Forecasts range from a decline of
150,000 jobs to an increase of 100,000. [ECI/US]
SMALL BUSINESS HIRING
A separate survey of small-business sentiment found
optimism jumped 16 percentage points in February from the prior
month. According to SurePayroll Inc, which processes paychecks
for 25,000 small businesses, 61 percent of small-business
owners are optimistic about the future of the small-business
Small-business hiring increased 1.9 percent nationwide last
month, led by gains in western states including California and
Nevada, though without higher wages. SurePayroll said its pay
index was flat last month, after 23 months of declines.
The private-sector surveys come amid tentative signs of
improvement in the U.S. economy.
Most retailers posted better-than-expected February sales
The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for
unemployment insurance fell last week, a government report
showed on Thursday, while those continuing to receive benefits
dropped to the lowest level in over a year. Productivity rose
(Reporting by Nick Zieminski, editing by Maureen Bavdek)